Simone Biles deserves a lot of credit for using her situation to raise awareness of women’s mental health. Her withdrawal from 2021 Olympic gymnastics due to mental health issues revealed the pressure she has struggled with during her success. The World Health Organization praised her bravery. Simone has even admitted in interviews she bottles her emotions and hates to cry. She has brought the importance of self-care into the light.
The world of women’s sports is beginning to understand crying and mental issues are not signs of weakness. Unfortunately, many people require therapy before this is understood. Suppressing emotions can lead to anxiety and severe mental pressure. Simone has been referred to as the most authentic sign of strength showing courage under intense pressure.
People worldwide have been tweeting about Simone Biles, stating her peace and health matter and letting her know they stand beside her. She has reminded people of the importance of women’s mental health. Simone Biles is also receiving support from her former women’s sports Olympians. Unfortunately, the Gymnastics team for the Russian Olympic Committee did not empathize with her decision after winning the gold.
One tweet stated her nerves needed time to heal after the Russian gymnasts defeated her. A smiling emoji accompanied a picture of Simone in the tweet. One of the Russian women’s sports newspaper headlines stated she had come to an inglorious end in Olympics gymnastics. Why was the validity of her withdrawal due to mental health issues questioned? Her loss may have played a role in her choice. But that doesn’t give a newspaper the approval to write that she could not cope with the pressure applied by the Russian team.
There were negative comments from Japan where issues with mental health are still stigmatized, and some news sources even claimed she was acting like a child by using depression as an excuse. The truth is Simone is one of the bravest examples of true Olympic gymnastics. Yes, she understands her performance as a gymnast can be physically dangerous, but this was not the issue.
Her choice had nothing to do with defeat. She knew that due to her mental state of mind, she could not perform correctly and was risking a serious, permanent, or fatal injury. Leaving her team was not an act of ignorance, an excuse, fear or an easy decision. She dared to do what she knew was right. When women’s mental health is not stable, it takes courage to stand up and admit there is an issue because there is still a stigma.
As a former English gymnast and sports editor, Alison Kervin did not mince words. She unleashed her anger on the critics while demanding the trolls on social media grow up. She spoke of her time in training for women’s sports and said she saw one of her teammates landing on her neck. When Yelena Mukhina performed a Salto, she broke her neck and passed away from the injuries.
Alison tweeted about the danger of gymnastics and the importance of self-care. One of the Russian columnists said Simone’s story showed anything is possible. She stated if she had been performing at 100 percent capacity, she would not have lost to anyone in women’s sports. She also said she was the greatest gymnast of all time.
The Russian athlete would have continued for the team, possibly resulting in a severe injury or another death. Every athlete should be able to decide if they can compete with no stigma attached. The English soccer team talked about racist attacks and mental health pressures they endured after the final for the European Championship. The team lost due to a round of penalty kicks.
Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford, and Jadon Sancho were the young black players missing kicks in the shootout. Unfortunately, social media has subjected them to uncalled-for harassment and abuse. Officials must determine a better way of protecting the player’s mental health. Perhaps all these players needed was better self-care.
For anyone that has never experienced mental health issues, the subject is often misunderstood and confusing. The same is true for those with limited information. Nobody should assume they understand the mental health of someone else. The first step is to ask questions. Hopefully, Simone will be remembered as a hero that dared to stand up for mental health.